On Main Street Are There No ATMs?

Today in the category of “Things I Wish My Fellow Midwesterners Wouldn’t Say Because it Gives My Friends Too Much Ammunition,”, Democratic Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson has reported that he has never used an ATM machine. 

That’s right.  In an article posted in the Omaha World-Herald yesterday, Senator Nelson, as senator presumably one of the most important people in our government, stated he couldn’t speak to the topic of reasonable ATM fees in the Senate finance bill because “I’ve never used an ATM.”  He went on to say, “I could learn how to do it just like I've . . . I swipe to get my own gas, buy groceries. I know about the holograms.” 

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By “the holograms” apparently the Senator did not mean that ATMs in fact emitted three-dimensional images of a princess telling you your cash is her only hope; according to the World-Herald he was instead referring to the bar codes found on products in stores.  Which are neither three dimensional nor even shimmery. 

The Omaha World-Herald went on to report that Nebraska’s other senator, Republican Senator Mike Johanns has used an ATM five times or fewer in his entire life.  And Senator Chuck Grassley, of neighboring Iowa, indicated that he “has a credit card, but I don’t use it for cash.” 

To say that these men’s astounding lack of experience in one of the most basic and common means of financial transaction makes them unqualified to speak credibly on financial sector reform is obviously a gross conflation of issues.  Yet it does not inspire confidence that the needs and issues of ordinary people are being heard in the deliberations, either. 

In other news, MTV is currently pitching Senators Nelson and Johanns to star on a new reality show in which the two are introduced to “strange technology” like “the steering wheel”, “laundry detergent” and “the stove.”

Jim McDermott, SJ

 

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Brian Thompson
7 years 9 months ago
So what if he hasn't used an ATM?
He did the right thing in admitting that he could not speak to an issue he did not know anything about.
All polticians could learn from this, not speaking when they are clueless or at least basing opinions and decisions on other bases than experience and admitting that they are speaking from research or constituent concerns or the like.
James Lindsay
7 years 9 months ago
On a sad and related note, it was announced yesterday that the inventor of the first ATM, John Shepherd-Barron, an employee of Barclay's Bank in London, died on Saturday last at the age of 84.
7 years 9 months ago
Well, I guess we could strive to have a legislature made up of common men, including the uneducated, but then we'd have the problem on the more complex aspects of our various systems, which have greater consequence for the population (if not as directly felt) than ATM fees.

It's the nature of the job, I think; these guys have people doing such mundane activities for them. I'd wager to say that those who have never used an ATM have probably been to a bank teller; whereas many of today's younger generation have not.
KEVIN MULCAHY
7 years 9 months ago
Actually I think the senator is a Democrat, albeit one of the most conservative Democrats.  And of course powerful and or wealthy folks, of all political persuasions, often have employees who handle this sort of stuff for them.  I decline to criticize him because I'm such a late and inept adopter of new technologies, and it might be more a case of a man afraid of new technologies.
 
 
Eric Stoltz
7 years 9 months ago
Brian, the issue is not that the good senators do not use ATMs, the issue is that they are voting on legislation regarding ATM fees while having only the foggiest of notions of what these consarned contraptions are or how ubiquitous they are or how everyday people use them all the time.
J B
7 years 9 months ago
Interesting commentary.  You write:
To say that these men’s astounding lack of experience in one of the most basic and common means of financial transaction makes them unqualified to speak credibly on financial sector reform is obviously a gross conflation of issues. 
And the Deacon eomments:
..the issue is not that the good senators do not use ATMs, the issue is that they are voting on legislation regarding ATM fees while having only the foggiest of notions of what these consarned contraptions are or how ubiquitous they are or how everyday people use them all the time
Funny, I feel the same way about celibate males trying to tell women how to live their lives-trying to circumscribe their "proper" roles (while simultaneously denying women access to a sacrament). 
And imagine all these celibate males trying to tell we married folk that we need them to tell us about what the sacrament of marriage is all about, and even trying to dictate what methods we should use in planning our families. 
 
Eric Stoltz
7 years 9 months ago
My favorite comment about this was on another blog: ''I get all my cash in unmarked envelopes from lobbyists.''

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